Nokia’s Symbian Belle: A Look Back on the Revamped OS
Nokia’s Symbian Belle was a big step forward for the operating system, bringing it closer to its Android and iOS competitors. The update, which followed the Anna update, brought many quality of life changes and improvements to the overall user experience.
One of the most notable changes was to the homescreen, which received a massive overhaul. Users could now have up to 6 panes, and widgets were resizable, allowing for greater customization. Live widgets were also introduced, which could dynamically show messages from chat, email, and social network updates.
The app drawer was also revamped, replacing the nested folder system with a flat approach, making all shortcuts visible and easily accessible. Notifications were also given a better place to reside, adopting a popular feature introduced by Android makers.
Despite these updates, Symbian was still playing catch-up to its rivals, and some features remained unchanged. The app switcher, for example, stayed the same, and the web browser only saw slight improvements.
Nokia also pushed the boundaries with NFC technology, allowing users to seamlessly pair their devices and quickly exchange information or connect to other accessories.
Belle was announced in April 2011 and was met with anticipation. It arrived in late August of the same year, with several Nokia devices receiving the new OS version. Old devices were not left behind, as Symbian^3 phones were also updated.
However, despite the efforts to modernize Symbian, Nokia ultimately decided to drop the Symbian branding and focus on new technologies. The last incarnation of Symbian Belle, known as Feature Pack 2, brought some additional improvements but was not enough to keep Symbian competitive.
The roadmap to the future included plans for Symbian Carla and Donna, with features such as new widgets, a new web browser, more NFC capabilities, and enhanced performance. However, these plans were ultimately canceled, and the Nokia 808 PureView became the last Symbian phone.
Looking back, it’s clear that Symbian Belle marked an important step in the evolution of Nokia’s operating system. While it may not have been enough to keep Symbian afloat, it laid the groundwork for future innovations in the mobile industry.